Digital History Seminar, Institute for Historical Research
Holden Room 103, Senate house, South block, First floor, 5:15 pm (GMT)
Digital Harlem is the online form of a project to explore everyday life in
America’s leading black neighbourhood in the 1920s. It grew from a desire
for a more detailed understanding of Harlem as a place and from a concern
to find ways to examine a large and diverse set of archival and published
sources. The site employs a database that integrates a diverse range of
material on the basis of geographical location, and connects that material
with a real estate map of the neighborhood overlaid on Google Maps.
The site is dynamic, allowing the results of users’ searches for events,
places and individuals to be displayed on the map, searches to be limited
in various ways, including by date, and different searches to be layered
on the same map to allow comparisons and show change over time.
The site promotes a spatial analysis that highlights the variety of
different places that made up the neighborhood, and locating the events
and individuals found in 1920s Harlem in the context of those places,
capturing something of the complexity of everyday life.
Stephen Robertson is Associate Professor of American history in the
Department of History at the University of Sydney. Since 2003 he has
collaborated with Shane White and Stephen Garton to study everyday life in
1920s Harlem. One product of that project is Playing the Numbers:
Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars (Harvard University Press, 2010).
Another is the Digital Harlem site, awarded the American Historical
Association’s Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History and
the ABC-CLIO Online History Award of the American Library Association in
2010. With the support of an Australian Research Council grant, the site
is currently being extend to examine the 1935 Harlem riot.